Developing Methods for the Estimation of Stature and their Use as a Proxy for Health among the Ancient Chachapoya of Peru
Population mean stature and patterns of health are often linked in anthropological studies, yet few studies control for the multifactorial nature of achieving adult standing height. This thesis explores the intersection of health and stature by analyzing the skeletal remains of 161 adult individuals from the archaeological site of Kuelap, in the eastern slopes of the northern Peruvian Andes, and also tests current biometric methods for estimating stature from skeletal remains. This Chachapoya site dates to the Late Intermediate Period (AD 900 – 1470) and Late Horizon (AD 1470 – 1536) and resides in the high altitude sub-tropical forests of the Andes. An anatomical method of stature estimation was applied to a subsample of 36 individuals and linear regression formulae were created, proving especially effective for the tibia and calcaneus in this sample. These new formulae produced more accurate results, regardless of sex, when compared to traditional estimates and suggest that sexually specific formulae are not necessary in studies of stature. However, sexual dimorphism in skeletal elements did produce an effective method of sex determination from individual appendicular elements and was tested successfully on commingled remains. This investigation produced valuable formulae for estimating both sex and stature from isolated remains in the Chachapoyas region. The results established that interregional variance in stature is consistent, but mean stature is strongly affected by environmental pressures. This study highlights the ineffectiveness of using stature to assess the relative health of geographically distinct populations, but demonstrates the possibility of culturally specific health interpretations. The formulae for sex and stature estimation created in this study have provided a glimpse of the intersection between culture, environment, and health in human biological diversity.
Toyne, J. Marla
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Anzellini, Armando, "Developing Methods for the Estimation of Stature and their Use as a Proxy for Health among the Ancient Chachapoya of Peru" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4860.